The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest For… Test | Final Test - Hard

Brian Greene
This set of Lesson Plans consists of approximately 185 pages of tests, essay questions, lessons, and other teaching materials.
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What materials were formed during the period of the big bang known as the "primordial nucleosynthesis"?

2. What prevents the potentially dangerous effects of an exposed tear in space-time?

3. What is the scientific state of the "multiverse" theory?

4. Why are the extra dimensions needed in string theory?

5. What property of both black holes and elementary particles is still unknown?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is a virtual string pair, and how is it formed?

2. Describe the history of space-time tears in physics.

3. Are the extra-dimensions demanded by string theory, space or time dimensions? How are those dimensions experienced in everyday life?

4. Describe Kaluza-Klein theory.

5. What is the horizon problem in cosmology? How was it resolved?

6. What is the origin of M-theory, and what are its basic characteristics?

7. What is the major difference between the big bang with and without string theory?

8. Greene suggests that black holes are very similar to, and might in fact be, elementary particles. What evidence supports this suggestion?

9. In the context of the big bang, what is symmetry breaking?

10. What is the strong-weak duality?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Relativistic Relativity

Einstein is most famous for his two theories of relativity. It is sometimes said that special relativity would have been discovered in a few years without Einstein, but if it were not for him, the world would still be waiting for general relativity. These two theories are critical to modern physics and are used in important applications every day.

Part 1) Describe the discovery of the theory of special relativity. What thoughts caused Einstein to first contemplate this theory, and how did it develop. Explain the underlying principles of special relativity.

Part 2) Repeat the above analysis for the theory of general relativity.

Part 3) Compare and contrast the discoveries of these two theories. Make an assessment of which has been more important historically. Describe succinctly the difference between these theories.

Part 4) Research and describe some of the ways that each of these theories affect technology and ongoing physics research.

Essay Topic 2

Symmetry Through the Universe

The "super" in "superstring theory" comes from the theory of supersymmetry, which itself derives from the easily intelligible principle of symmetry, which is ubiquitous in science. A physical law has symmetry if it is applied equally to any point in space or time. Supersymmetry is an expansion of that principle, and it provides string theory with a unique capability.

Part 1) Describe the nature of symmetry in the scientific field, and give some examples of laws which obey symmetry. Provide imaginary counter-examples that demonstrate the chaotic and unpredictable nature of laws that do not have symmetry.

Part 2) Describe supersymmetry, and explain the property of "spin" associated with elementary particles, and how it applies to the theory. Describe attempts to prove supersymmetry experimentally.

Part 3) What is the advantage when supersymmetry is incorporated into string theory? Describe the predictive and explanatory power that string theory gains through this in detail.

Essay Topic 3

Accelerated Evidence

In this book, the author presents many thought problems to help the reader work through difficult concepts. The unintuitive concepts of special and general relativity receive particular attention. These theories fly in the face of observations made in everyday life, but at the speeds and scales that they deal with, they have been confirmed to be exactly correct. Furthermore, they form one of the cornerstones of modern physics. This essay deals with thought problems that illustrate the underlying principles of special and general relativity. The essay should include ample explanations and transitions so that it is cohesive and makes sense.

Part 1) Describe a number of novel thought problems that would demonstrate the principles of special relativity, that motion is relative, and that time and space warp for an object moving near the speed of light. Each thought problem should be robust enough that it requires multiple sentences to explain. Each problem should clearly demonstrate the principle in question, and explained fully, with a succinct conclusion.

Part 2) Imagine that a space traveler is locked inside a ship, and cannot use any senses or tools to observe anything outside of the room he is occupying. Propose a number of experiments that the traveler could perform to determine what the motion of the spacecraft is. Be sure to include a discussion of constant-velocity motion, accelerated motion, gravitational acceleration, and orbital (circular) motion.

Part 3) Repeat the analysis performed in part 1 for the case of general relativity. Demonstrate the equivalence between acceleration and gravity, the warping of space-time caused by massive objects, and the straight-line motion of objects through curved space.

(see the answer keys)

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